What is Primary Authority?
Primary Authority is a government run scheme that helps protect businesses from unnecessary legal challenges. It helps to ensure businesses operating in the food sector are doing so safely and legally.
Primary Authority is an extension of the old ‘Home Authority’ principle where your local authority and your business worked together to ensure you were on the right side of the law.
Government have recognised that enforcement and interpretation of legal regulations was sometimes variable in its approach, and that many businesses operated outside their own local area, so in 2009 they launched the Primary Authority scheme.
The vision for Primary Authority is to allow business to ‘trade with confidence’ throughout England.
Once you have Primary Authority advice signed off within a registered partnership, your operating practices can’t be challenged by any other enforcement authority.
Types of Partnership
There are 2 types of Primary Authority scheme; direct and coordinated.
A direct partnership with a Primary Authority can look at your specific policies or operating procedures on site and assure themselves that you are operating within the law. In effect they endorse your operations and policies. Given their legal status as a Primary Authority partner this advice then has legal backing for your business.
BFFF operates a co-ordinated Primary Authority scheme and we have an expanding range of sector-wide advice. This partnership operates in the same way as the direct partnership but you don’t need to deal with the Primary Authority directly, BFFF does that for you. You can also rely on this advice as it also has the legal backing for your business.
Why Join the BFFF Scheme Now?
The national Primary Authority Scheme has just been amended and relaunched.
Up until now it has been difficult for all but the biggest businesses to have both co-ordinated and direct partners but recently this has changed. Now any BFFF member can benefit from advice, whether it is tailored to your business or sectoral advice put in place by BFFF. Don’t worry if you were signed up to the BFFF schemes before, it all still applies.
[A series of unique BFFF schemes are available for Fire Safety only, please contact us for more information.]
What if I Operate Outside England?
All primary authority advice should be seen as, at least, best practice – you can’t be going far wrong if you are following it.
However to have true legal standing in Wales you need to have the advice signed off by a Welsh primary authority but don’t worry BFFF can help members access the right advice from authorities based in Wales.
In Scotland and Northern Ireland the Scheme does not operate in the same way and separate advice may be needed, given some of the small differences in legal regulation in the food area. Discuss this with us and we can explain in more detail.
What Expertise do BFFF’s Partners Have?
Over the past few years BFFF has worked with a number of local authority experts. We have chosen our partners with care based on their knowledge of the sector and expertise in each of the specialised areas:
– Health and Safety;
– Food Safety & Hygiene;
– Food Standards & Labelling;
– Weights & Measures;
– Fair Trading; and
– Fire Safety.
Our Primary Authority partners are:
We have found the advice from our partners to be consistently practical and sympathetic to the views of the industry, whilst they all have first class knowledge of the relevant legislation. More information about BFFF’s PA partners and their expertise can be found on our website, here:
A full list of our published Primary Authority advice is available here: Advice List
Martin Forsyth – Head of Technical
01400 283094 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Crystal Holmes – Health & Safety Assistant
01400 664309 – email@example.com
Primary Authority Statutory Guidance
In order to provide information to businesses, trade associations and local enforcement officers on how the Primary Authority operates, Regulation Delivery has produced Statutory Guidance to assist them. You can find the Primary Authority Statutory Guidance and other useful resources here.